"Coming Out" About Climate Change
Ever since I “came out” about my climate change concerns, friends send me articles, podcasts, and books on the subject. Some are dire and terrifying, some upbeat and positive. I relate to the “sustainable lifestyle” orientation of some, because that’s where I was for many years in terms of a response to humans killing life on earth. But the more serious phase of my climate consciousness started last year.
I began drilling down on eco-Marxists theories on the ills of capitalism, and the perspective deeply resonated with me. Excess resource extraction and over-consumption made me uncomfortable and seemed unethical at a global level, despite being conflated with democracy my whole life. For me, coming out meant breaking my own silence about what had been concerning me to a growing extent; in fact, the single issue of bee population collapse was enough to make me very worried. But further, coming out meant moving through a shame barrier that would have me risk looking like a jerk to my friends, by speaking my belief that we need an immediate effort to survive before we can imagine our ability thrive.
I consider my friends “woke.” Together, we all actively do good things for the collective, seek a healthy lifestyle, and work to expand our consciousness. But we don’t talk about what we’re going to do about climate change. We talk about political candidates, but not about who has a climate platform. So, when my circle of women gathered in December and we each did a check-in about our lives, I decided to speak up. I announced I was reading more Marxist theory because it was clear that capitalism as it is will ruin our planet. Silence fell over the table, jaws dropped, and we moved on without comment.
A couple months later, I had the opportunity to host Margaret Klein Salamon of The Climate Mobilization for a talk and event that would directly dig into this subject. I was scared. Would I be rejected by my peers? Would I be seen as a turd in the proverbial punchbowl? Despite myself, I threw out an email invitation to 150 people and held my breath. I got a couple of positive responses immediately, so I knew I was on to something. 50 people showed up, and once they did, they didn’t want to leave.
Since that day two months ago, hundreds of cities have declared a climate emergency, and I have begun hosting group discussions to allow more people to speak about their feelings and current relationship to the climate emergency. People now see me as someone they can talk to about their own experience and relationship to the issue. The friends who initially balked at my coming out are now the ones I mentioned at the top of this post, sending more articles and perspectives my way so we can hash things out together.
I want to invite you to join this crucial conversation. I hope you’ll engage with more blog posts I’ll be sharing on this subject, email me with your thoughts, and join me at upcoming events. It’s time we all came out and spoke up, because tackling the climate crisis is going to take radical and collaborative honesty.